Sunday, January 17, 2010


Yes, I skipped yesterday.  There are 3-6 days of slack built in to each month's schedule, and I used one of January's yesterday...

Genesis 47-50

In Genesis 47, Joseph brought five of his brothers before Pharoah, who asked their occupations.  The explained that they were all shepherds, from a line of shepherds.  Pharoah tells Joseph to settle his family in Goshen, and if any had "special ability," to put them in charge of Pharoah's own livestock.  Joseph then introduced Pharoah to Jacob, who blessed him.  Joseph then settled his family in "the best part of the land, the district of Rameses" and provided them with food.

The famine was still in effect, and the people of Egypt came to Joseph.  First, Joseph "collected all the money that was to be found in Egypt and Canaan in payment for the grain they were buying," then he took all of the livestock of the people in exchange for food, and then Joseph "bought all the land in Egypt for Pharaoh."  Joseph established a law - "still in force today" - that one fifth of all of the produce in Egypt belonged to Pharoah.  And "the Israelites settled in Egypt in the region of Goshen...acquired property there and were fruitful and increased greatly in number." 

As Jacob aged, he made his son Joseph swear to return his body and bury him where his fathers were buried.

In chapter 48, the dying Jacob called Joseph to him, and told him of the promises of God Almighty to "make you fruitful" and to give the land of Canaan "as an everlasting possession to your descendants after you."  He said that Joseph's sons would be reckoned as sons of Jacob "just as Reuben and Simeon" were.  Any subsequent children born to Joseph would be Joseph's, "reckoned under the names of their brothers."  And then Jacob blessed Ephraim and Manasseh, but he crossed his arms to give the right-hand blessing to the younger brother.

Chapter 49 shows Jacob's blessings for his sons.  After giving those blessings, and instructing his sons to bury him where Abraham and Sarah are buried, he dies.

Genesis concludes in chapter 50 with the burial of Jacob.  He is mourned in Egypt, then Joseph informs Pharoah of his (Joseph's) oath to bury Jacob in Canaan.  A large group goes up, they mourn Jacob, and bury him.  With their father buried, Joseph's brothers are concerned, again, that he will take revenge upon them for their actions selling him into slavery.  He reiterates that while the meant ill, God meant well by it, and that he holds no grudge.  Joseph lived to 110 years old, and was embalmed and placed in a coffin in Egypt.

    Thoughts, questions, issues
  • It seems as if Joseph was personally responsible for selling the entire population of Egypt into slavery under Pharoah.  Before the famine, the people had money, livestock and land - afterwards, they had nothing.
  • There is a parallel between Isaac's blessings on Esau and Jacob, and Jacob's blessings on Manasseh and Ephraim.  In each case, the younger son gets the blessing that "should" have gone to the older.  Unlike the case of Isaac, Jacob knew and understood who he was blessing.
  • The odd statement that I noted in chapter 35 about Reuben and Bilhah leads directly to Reuben's blessing.  Jacob tells him that "you will no longer excel, for you went up onto your father's bed, onto my couch and defiled it."
  • Some of the blessings don't seem much like blessings.  Such as "Simeon and Levi...cursed be their anger...I will scatter them in Jacob and disperse them in Israel."  Or "Issachar is a rawboned donkey...he will bend his shoulder to the burden and submit to forced labor."

Proverbs 13:1-12

The in this set of verses, the focus on the speech continues, as well as truth and integrity.  Verse 7 is one that, unlike so much of the book of Proverbs, does not have an obvious surface meaning.

"One man pretends to be rich, yet has nothing;
another pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth."

I don't know what to make of that.  It does not appear to be an instruction.  If describing particular conditions, it is not clear to me what those conditions would be, not with any specificity.  It's just an odd verse, and uncharacteristically obscure in this context.  I strongly suspect that there are cultural and linguistic barriers that leave this less clear than it would have been at the time.

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